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Germany/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

Article 32 (1) of the Constitution states: "Relations with foreign states shall be conducted by the Federal Government". Following from this Article, the Federal authorities and Parliament are responsible for foreign cultural policy.

The political guidelines establishing the priorities for foreign cultural policy are formulated and coordinated by the Foreign Office. The Federal Commissioner for Cultural and Media Affairs is responsible for a number of important fields, for example foreign broadcasting services or the restitution of art works ("looted art"). Other federal ministries, such as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research or the Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development are also active in foreign cultural policy, although to a much lesser extent than the Foreign Office and the Federal Commissioner for Cultural and Media Affairs BKM. There has been a Committee or Sub-Committee for External Cultural Policy in the German Federal Parliament (Bundestag) intermittently since 1969. Currently, it is a sub-committee of the Committee on "Foreign Affairs". Furthermore, in the 1970s the federal parliament had a Commission of Inquiry on "Foreign Cultural Policy".

The most important areas of foreign cultural relations and educational policy (AKBP) as third pillar of foreign policy besides the political and economic relationships are cross-border co-operation in education and science, international cultural dialogue, promotion of the German language abroad, and exchanges in the fields of art, music and literature.

In 2011, the Foreign Office presented a new concept of AKBP: AKBP in times of globalisation – gaining partners, conveying values, representing interests.

For the period 2013/2014 the following main focusses are listed in the 18th report of the Federal Government concerning AKBP: culture and sports, education, co-operation and dialogue, Germany's image abroad as well as regional focusses (for example Ukraine). In 2013, the expenditures of AKBP amounted to 1 571 million EUR, in 2014 to 1 591 million EUR, around half of these amounts accounted for the AKBP household (budget) of the Foreign Office.

In 2014, the Foreign Office initiated a review-process "foreign policy thought ahead" – a "self-understanding of perspectives of German foreign policy" concerning the areas of foreign policy.

Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Steinmeier presented his final report in February 2015 after a dialogue process comprising three phases – interviewing international experts, a discussion with the German public and a debate with members of the Foreign Office staff. Three keywords – crisis, order, Europe – describe the medium-term challenges. Foreign Minister Steinmeier aimed in particular at the social power of culture and its great importance (high priority) for crisis and conflict prevention. Furthermore, the German Federal Parliament (Bundestag) supports the realignment by additional funds.

For the most part, this policy is implemented by intermediary organisations funded by the Federal Foreign Office such as: the Goethe-Institut (GI), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (IfA), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), and the German UNESCO Commission (DUK). They are free to create their own programmes.

The relevant bodies of the federal states (Länder) cooperate closely with the Federal Government in the field of foreign cultural policy. Municipalities and civil society groups are actively involved in cultural work abroad.

Chapter published: 30-08-2016

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